The Telegraph 2024-02-20 16:30:23

Body of Abdul Ezedi found in River Thames, police say

Detectives searching for Abdul Ezedi, the man wanted for the corrosive substance attack on a mother and her children in Clapham, have recovered a body from the River Thames.

The body was spotted by a passing boat close to Tower Pier at around 4pm on Monday, Scotland Yard said.

It was recovered by officers from the Met’s Marine Policing Unit and is being examined by detectives working on the investigation.

While formal identification has not yet taken place, Scotland Yard said all the indications were that the remains were those of Ezedi.

Commander Jon Savell said: “Based on the distinctive clothing he was wearing at the time of the attack and property found on his body, we strongly believe we have recovered the body of Ezedi.

“We have been in contact with his family to pass on the news.

“As you may expect after a considerable period of time in the strong current of the Thames, formal identification is not possible visually, nor from fingerprints. We will work with the coroner on other ways to complete formal identification, such as DNA testing and dental records. That may take some time.

“Our enquiries continue into the attack. I am pleased to say the condition of the 31-year-old woman has improved. She remains in hospital but she is in a stable condition and no longer sedated. We have still not been able to speak to her but hope to as soon as she is well enough.

“Again, I thank all those hundreds of members of the public who called us with information during the hunt for Ezedi. The public support for our investigation was overwhelming and every piece of information provided was followed up.”

A huge manhunt was launched last month after Ezedi, a former asylum seeker, travelled from his home in Newcastle and allegedly attacked a woman he had been in a relationship with, throwing a powerful alkaline in her face.

Following the attack, police pieced together his movements across London as he travelled on public transport and walked through the city streets.

The last known sighting of him was on Chelsea Bridge at around 11.30pm on Jan 31.

On Feb 7, the Met Police said they believed that Ezedi had entered the river at that point and they have been searching for his body since.

Officers from the Marine Policing Unit have carried out a number of low tide searches in the area surrounding Chelsea Bridge and have been scanning the area downstream.

One worker who helps run tours from Tower Millennium Pier said he had noticed around three or four rescue boats on late Monday afternoon along the stretch of water where Ezedi’s body is believed to have been retrieved.

The worker, who did not wished to he identified, said their team were briefly stopped from running tours during the retrieval of the body.

“I didn’t know exactly what it was, this time of the year they are always bringing stuff up.

“There were a bunch of blue lights, rescue boats, there.”

At midday on Tuesday there was no sign of any police activity, only a stream of news broadcasters and camera crews along the pier recapping to the public Ezedi’s final movements.

Ex-Strictly Come Dancing professional Robin Windsor dies aged 44

Robin Windsor, a former professional dancer on Strictly Come Dancing, has died at the age of 44, his dance company has announced.

Windsor joined the BBC competition in 2010 and participated in four series before leaving the show. His celebrity partners included actresses Patsy Kensit, Anita Dobson and Lisa Riley as well as Dragon’s Den entrepreneur Deborah Meaden.

Windsor’s agents and co-stars have been among the first to pay tribute to the dancer, who had previously revealed his struggle with depression while on the show. In 2018, Windsor told the Dancing Times: “We all have dark days but I was having dark weeks.

“I would end up not getting out of bed for four or fives days at a time, as far as everyone was concerned I was ‘happy Robin’ – except to the people I lived with.”

Windsor’s ex-partner, Marcus Collins, who was a finalist on ITV talent show the X-Factor in 2011, said on his Instagram page: “The world just got a lot less sparkly. Robin you were so loved.”

No cause of death has yet been given.

The news was confirmed by Sisco Entertainment, which represented Windsor in various areas of theatre and corporate entertainment.

A statement said: “It is with heavy hearts that we announce the tragic passing of our beloved friend, Robin Windsor. 

“Robin’s presence in Come What May was more than just a performance; it was an embodiment of passion, grace, and sheer talent. His laughter was contagious, his kindness boundless.

“His friendship was a gift cherished by all who had the privilege of knowing him. Robin, you will be deeply missed.

A Strictly Come Dancing spokesman said: “The whole Strictly Come Dancing family are deeply saddened to hear the news about our dear friend Robin Windsor. 

“He was not only an exceptionally talented dancer and choreographer but also a caring, considerate and kind person both on and off the dancefloor. Our thoughts are with his friends and family at this extremely difficult time.”

Burn the Floor, an international Latin and ballroom dance company, said Windsor’s death leaves “a void in our hearts that will never be filled” in a statement on its Facebook page.

“A BTF journeyman he danced with us for 20 years – including Broadway, The West End and all our crazy adventures around the world,” the statement said. “His stunning image attached with Jessica Raffa defined our company, colourful, extreme and sensual.

His talent, attitude, energy and personality helped create the Burn the Floor stage reputation. He leaves a void in our hearts that will never be filled, yet our wonderful memories will stay forever.

Susanna Reid, the Good Morning Britain presenter, fought back tears as she announced Windsor’s death on Tuesday.

Reid had previously danced with Robin on the BBC One show’s Children In Need special back in 2011 and handed over the announcement to co-presenter Ed Balls as she was visibly in shock.

She said: He was just an extraordinary person and as I say, he would have had so many people gripped watching either Strictly Come Dancing or Burn The Floor or other tours and dance productions he was in involved in. 

“I’m sorry if you’re waking up to that this morning and are as devastated about that as we are.”

“We send all of our love to Robin’s family and to his friends and colleagues.”

Loved by so many

Paying tribute to Windsor, Craig Revel Horwood, Strictly Come Dancing’s longest standing judge, wrote on Twitter: “I have just heard the tragic news my dear friend ‘Bobby’ Robin Windsor has passed.

“He was one of the kindest, gentle, honest, funny and caring people I’ve had the pleasure of knowing and working with. He will be forever missed. My heart goes out to all his family & friends.

“RIP darling man, you were truly loved x.”

Patrick Helm, a choreographer on the show, said Windsor was someone who was loved by so many but couldn’t see it himself.

He wrote in a tribute: “I don’t even know how to find the words to this post. I will dearly miss you Robin Windsor

“This one is hitting me hard and too close to home. My deepest condolences go to your family and everyone who knew you! You were another one who was loved by so many but couldn’t see it himself.

“May you finally be free and find piece [sic]. RIP Bobby.”

Lisa Riley, the Emmerdale star and presenter who performed with Windsor on Strictly in 2012, said her heart was “broken” following the news.

Alongside a selection of images of them smiling and laughing together posted to twitter, Riley wrote: “My Bestie, My Robin, My Angel, now our forever Angel, who is loved, will always be loved, forever in my heart.

“My very broken heart, I love you, shine your beautiful, electric energy from heaven. Shine In Peace.”

James Jordan, a former Strictly Come Dancing professional, described him as a “legend” as he paid tribute.

“I had the pleasure of working with this man for many years on Strictly – I have such fond memories of him,” he wrote in an Instagram post.

“He was always very caring and fun to be around. Everyone who came in contact with him adored him, from his celebrity partners to his working colleagues. You will be missed old friend.”

Windsor first began dancing at the age of three when his parents enrolled him in classes in Ipswich, according to his website. He went on to represent England in numerous championships, both on the domestic and international levels. 

He joined the cast of show Burn The Floor in 2001 and toured the world for 10 years, with a nine-month run on Broadway.

Windsor also appeared in Dancing With The Stars Australia and So You Think You Can Dance in the Netherlands and assisted in the choreography for the Australian version of So You Think You Can Dance, as well as acting as a motivational speaker.

Windsor is understood to have recently visited South Africa where he was photographed on a cruise ship. In his last Instagram post, uploaded on Jan 28, he shared an image of himself in black and white with the caption: “Hiding in the shadows”.

A statement on Windsor’s official website confirming his death said: It is with deep sorrow that we announce the tragic passing of our beautiful Robin. 

“Robin’s dancing started from a very young age and never stopped. He lit up any room he walked into, he was a nurturing soul always full of fun. He brought so much happiness to anyone who saw him dance.

“Strictly Come Dancing, Burn the Floor and many other dance shows along with all the school children around the country who he gave his time.

“Robin was a strong advocate for mental health and worked closely with the ‘Sane Charity’.

“The dance world has lost some of its sparkle today. We ask for the family’s privacy at this very difficult time.”

Nottingham killer to have sentence reviewed by Court of Appeal

The Attorney General has referred the sentence of Valdo Calocane, the Nottingham triple killer, to the Court of Appeal for it to be reviewed as “unduly lenient”.

Calocane, a paranoid schizophrenic, was handed an indefinite order to be detained in a high-security hospital after he pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the basis of diminished responsibility.

Victoria Prentis has asked appeal judges to decide whether his sentence should be increased so that he would face prison if he was released from the hospital where he is being treated.

The 32-year-old took the lives of 19-year-old university students Barnaby Webber and Grace O’Malley-Kumar before killing 65-year-old school caretaker Ian Coates in a series of violent attacks in Nottingham on June 13 last year.

Calocane was originally charged with murder but this was downgraded to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility, owing to his schizophrenia.

Ms Prentis said: “Having received detailed legal advice and considered the issues raised very carefully, I have concluded that the sentence imposed against Calocane, for the offences of manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility and attempted murder, was unduly lenient and will be referred to the Court of Appeal.

“My thoughts remain with all of Calocane’s victims, as well as their families and friends, who have shown such immeasurable strength during this devastating time.”

In a joint statement, the families of the three victims said: “We were very glad to hear that the Attorney General has agreed with us that the sentencing given to Valdo Calocane, who so viciously and calculatedly killed our loved ones, was wrong.

“We are optimistic that when this reaches the Royal Courts of Justice for its appeal there will be an outcome that provides some of the appropriate justice that we have been calling for.

“It is important to remember that this is just one part of the tragic failures in this case. The investigation into the mental health trust, the CPS and the Nottingham and Leicestershire Police still continue.

“We maintain that there are serious failures in all three agencies that must be fully addressed. Organisational and individual accountability must be taken and where relevant, proper change made”

Barnaby’s mother, Emma, had previously criticised the CPS, saying her family had felt “rushed, hastened and railroaded” into accepting the manslaughter plea.

Mr Coates’ son James said: “This man has made a mockery of the system, and he has got away with murder.

It is understood Ms Prentis and her legal team, who reviewed the case, believed that there should have been a “penal” element to the sentence.

Under the order issued by the judge at his trial, Calocane could be released if he recovered his mental health provided the Justice Secretary and doctors believed he was no longer a risk to the public.

The judge stepped back from issuing an order that would have required him to go to jail if he was to be released. Such an order could be regarded as the way to stop the sentence being seen as “unduly lenient.”

It is also understood Ms Prentis believes that insufficient weight had been placed in the sentencing on Calocane’s culpability in the crime in that he had “diminished” responsibility rather than no responsibility for it.

She is also understood to have argued that not enough weight was given to the aggravating factors behind the killings including the degree of planning, the use of weapons – notably knives – and the risk of wider harm to the general public.

The case is currently the subject of multiple reviews including investigations into the Crown Prosecution Service’s decision to drop the charge from murder to manslaughter and the way this was communicated to the family.

After the sentencing, the families of the victims and the survivors of the attack criticised the CPS, the NHS and Nottinghamshire Police.

Mrs Webber accused the CPS of not consulting with families over the charges, saying: “We as a devastated family have been let down by multiple agency failings and ineffectiveness. The CPS did not consult us as has been reported – instead we have been rushed, hastened and railroaded.”

She said the first meeting with the service was in November, adding: “We were presented with a fait accompli that the decision had been made to accept manslaughter charges. At no point during the previous five and a half months were we given any indication that this could conclude in anything other than murder.

“We do not dispute the murderer is mentally unwell and has been for a number of years. However the pre-mediated planning, the collection of lethal weapons, hiding in the shadows and brutality of the attacks are that of an individual who knew exactly what he was doing. He knew entirely that it was wrong but he did it anyway.”

She said “justice has not been served” and accused Assistant Chief Constable Rob Griffin, from Nottinghamshire Police, of having “blood on his hands” after it emerged Calocane had been wanted for a “vicious” assault on a police officer at the time of the killings.

The Telegraph revealed earlier this month that Calocane is entitled to claim thousands of pounds in state benefits a year despite being detained in a secure hospital for his violent crimes.

Calocane, 32, is eligible for universal credit payments of up £360 a month after being sent to the high security Ashworth hospital in Merseyside rather than being jailed.

Men and women’s brains do work differently, scientists discover for first time

The brains of men and women operate differently, scientists have shown for the first time in a breakthrough that shows sex does matter in how people think and behave.

‌The issue of whether male and female brains are distinct has proven controversial, with some academics arguing it is society – rather than biology – that shapes divergence.

‌There has never been any definitive proof of difference in activity in the brains of men and women, but Stanford University has shown that it is possible to tell the sexes apart based on activity in “hotspot” areas.

‌They include the “default mode network”, an area of the brain thought to be the neurological centre for “self”, and is important in introspection and retrieving personal memories. 

‌The limbic system is also implicated, which helps regulate emotion, memory and deals with sexual stimulation, and striatum, which is important in habit forming and rewards.

‌Experts said the brain differences could influence how males and females view themselves, how they interact with other people and how they recall past experiences.

‌Dr Vinod Menon, prof of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at Stanford, said: “This is a very strong piece of evidence that sex is a robust determinant of human brain organisation.”‌

“Our findings suggest that differences in brain activity patterns across these key brain regions contribute to sex-specific variations in cognitive functioning.”

However, he added that further research is needed to fully understand the implications of the findings.

‌It is well known that male and female chromosomes release sex-specific hormones in the brain, particularly in early development, puberty and during ageing.‌

There are also marked differences in how women and men perform in the real world. 

Women tend to be better at reading comprehension and writing ability on average, and have good long term memory. 

Conversely, men seem to have stronger visual and spatial awareness and better working memory.

‌Yet scientists have struggled to spot these differences in neural activity, with brain structures looking the same in men and women.‌

For the research, the team used “explainable AI” – a type of computer learning which can sift through vast amounts of data to explain why an effect is taking place.

‌The model was shown MRI scans of working brains and told whether it was looking at a woman or man. Over time, the neural network began to pick out subtle differences between the two sexes that had been missed by humans.

‌When the researchers tested the model on about 1,500 brain scans, the model was able to tell if the scan came from a woman or a man more than 90 per cent of the time.

‌Dr Gina Rippon, emeritus professor of cognitive neuroimaging at the Aston Brain Centre, and author of The Gendered Brain, has argued that society is to blame for brain differences in men and women.

‌Commenting on the study, she said: “The really intriguing issue is that those areas of the brain which are most reliably distinguishing the sexes are key parts of the social brain.

‌“The key issue is whether these differences are a product of sex-specific, biological influences, or of brain-changing gendered experiences. Or both. Are we really looking at sex differences? Or gender differences?

‌“Or, acknowledging that almost all brain–shaping factors are dynamically entangled products of both sex and gender influences, are we looking at what should be called sex/gender differences?”

‌Experts are hopeful that finding differences between male and female brains could be crucial in tackling neurological or psychiatric conditions that affect women and men differently.

‌For example, women are twice as likely as men to experience clinical depression while men are more at risk of drug and alcohol dependence and dyslexia. The brain areas discovered in the study are often associated with neurological disease.

‌Dr Menon added: “A key motivation for this study is that sex plays a crucial role in human brain development, in ageing, and in the manifestation of psychiatric and neurological disorders.”

“Identifying consistent and replicable sex differences in the healthy adult brain is a critical step toward a deeper understanding of sex-specific vulnerabilities in psychiatric and neurological disorders.”

‌Researchers said the AI model could answer other important questions about brain connectivity, cognitive ability, or behaviour and will be making it publicly available for any researchers to use.

‌The findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Jewish baby’s birth certificate returned from Home Office with ‘Israel’ scribbled out

The Home Office has been accused of scribbling out the word “Israel” on a six-month-old Jewish girl’s birth certificate.

A family from Edgware, in north London, sent off the document on Feb 6 to obtain a British passport for their baby daughter Ronnie. But when they received the returned certificate on Monday morning, the place of birth for her father – Israel – had been scribbled out with a black pen.

The Telegraph understands that the Home Office is looking into the matter and the department has been contacted for comment. It is unclear whether it was a mistake.

A picture of the birth certificate, which was released by the Campaign Against Antisemitism, shows a single scribble on the document in the birthplace box for the father, while the mention of Israel for the mother’s place of birth remains intact.

The girl’s father, whose name is also Israel, claimed that the certificate also arrived ripped, in a soft envelope and invalidated. The 32-year-old engineering company owner is now demanding an apology and explanation from the Home Office and a new birth certificate.

“My wife was very, very upset. The baby isn’t even six months and is already suffering discrimination,” he claimed.

“It’s like going back to the Nazi 1930s when Jewish documents had notes on the side. This baby did nothing wrong and was just born to Jewish parents, that’s all. We sent it to the Home Office which is in charge of our security and should be the most safe place for our private document.”

‘Completely unacceptable’

Israel and his wife Dorin, 29, have lived in Britain for almost a decade.

The Campaign Against Antisemitism, which is supporting the family, said it was “completely unacceptable”.

It added: “When sending off a passport application to the Home Office, the last thing one should ever expect is to have their child’s birth certificate returned, torn, with the parent’s place of birth scribbled out, just because it is the Jewish state,” the group said.

“We are assisting the parents, who are understandably very concerned. We are also asking the Home Office to investigate how this happened.

“The Home Office has responsibility for law enforcement and the security of the Jewish community and the wider public. Confidence in the authorities among British Jews is at painfully low levels and must be restored.”

The Home Office has been contacted for comment. 

Sadiq Khan puts ‘anti-UK propaganda’ on a pedestal in Trafalgar Square

Sadiq Khan has been accused of promoting “anti-British propaganda” with a multicultural shortlist of sculptures for Trafalgar Square’s fourth plinth.

The Mayor of London has resisted calls for a statue of Queen Elizabeth II to be erected in the space and instead launched a competition that will be decided by a public vote.

Offerings include a Bollywood-themed ice cream van, a golden bust of a woman’s head representing “a collective community portrait” and a black woman in a revealing blue dress.

The shortlist of seven was announced just days after Mr Khan announced a “woke” rebrand of the London Overground where six lines were given names to “celebrate the city’s diverse culture and history”.

Stretches of the network now honour migrant communities, Suffragettes and the England women’s football team in a move that was dismissed by critics as “virtue signalling nonsense”.

‘Let’s be proud of London’

Howard Cox, Reform UK’s candidate in May’s mayoral elections, said: “The fourth plinth should be a celebration of London’s history, illustrious Londoners, and genuinely creative metaphors about our capital city. It should not be a political platform to convey subliminal anti-British propaganda.

“Let’s be proud of London and steer clear of virtue signalling endorsements of other nations’ continued disdain for British history and culture.”

Last night Mr Khan said he was “proud to support the fourth plinth art exhibition in Trafalgar Square”.

“Since 1998, this initiative has showcased world-class artwork, adding to London’s dynamic cultural scene,” he wrote on social media. “Excited to see what new exhibits will be next to grace this iconic space.” The two winning entries will be displayed on the plinth for two years each from 2026 and 2028 and the shortlist has been drawn up by a panel of art experts hand-picked by Mr Khan’s Greater London Authority.

Chila Kumari Singh Burman, who created the ice-cream van which will broadcast Bollywood music to the square, has said Indians invented the treat not Italians. The Liverpool-born artist’s submission is inspired by her father’s job as an ice-cream man.

“Nobody knows about the Indian community in Liverpool,” she said.

 “We [should] not be talking about ice cream [started] by Italians, [it was] Indians.”

Other artworks on the shortlist include a large black cat, a sprouting sweet potato, a mud-like wood-fired oven and a person riding a horse under a translucent lime green shroud.

The winners of the shortlist will follow in the footsteps of a series of progressive artworks that have been placed on the fourth plinth in recent years.

The space is currently occupied by Samson Kambalu’s Antelope, which depicts John Chilembwe, an anti-colonial minister who led a 1915 revolt against British rule in Nyasaland, now Malawi.

It will be succeeded in November by face casts of 850 transgender people that are arranged in the style of a central American “tzompantli” war trophy skull rack.

A Conservative Party source said that Susan Hall, the Tory Party candidate, plans to move the artworks to make way for a statue of the late Queen if elected.

The London Assembly unanimously agreed in March last year that a statue of the late monarch should be placed somewhere in central London but Trafalgar Square appears unlikely to be its eventual destination.

‘No place for the Queen’

David Jones, the Tory MP for Clwyd West, said at the time that the plinth would not be a suitable location because the late Queen would be overshadowed by Lord Nelson’s statue.

“It needs to be sufficiently prominent and in my view being one of four statues in Trafalgar Square is not good enough. You can’t have her statue at a lower level than Lord Nelson,” he said.

The shortlist follows the announcement last week of six new names for the London Overground.

The new names – Lioness, Windrush, Suffragette, Weaver, Liberty and Mildmay – were introduced as the Overground was split into six separate lines in a £6.3 million rebrand.

Lord Frost, the Conservative peer, accused Mr Khan of forcing “politicisation” on the public and diverging from the London tradition of only naming public transport lines after royalty or local geography.

The Fourth Plinth Committee, which is ultimately under the control of the Mayor of London, commissions the winner of the public vote at a cost of £140,000, plus a £30,000 artist’s fee.

The proposals are available to view online and scale models of the proposed artworks are on display at the National Gallery until March 17. Voting closes on March 12.

Sunak and Starmer approval gap widest ever after Tory by-election defeats

Rishi Sunak’s approval rating has plummeted in the wake of the Conservatives’ by-election defeats, with the gap between the Prime Minister and Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, now the widest it has ever been…